Food Interrupted: Panera Bread® Challenges Food System’s Transparency With Whole Grain Commitment and New Digital Platform

St. Louis, Missouri, UNITED STATES

First National Restaurant Company to Post Whole Grain Content in Breads

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Panera Bread wants people to think about food, what’s in it and where it comes from, so they can make informed decisions about what and how they eat. Bread is in Panera’s DNA, and today the company announces it is the first national restaurant company to disclose the whole grain content of breads on its menu. On all breads over 50% whole grain, Panera now labels servings of whole grain per slice, roll or bagel, as well as the whole grain percentage, so guests know exactly what they are eating.

The new labeling commitment coincides with the launch of “Food Interrupted,” Panera’s first-ever digital platform aimed at providing increased transparency.  Each episode follows leaders in the food world as they meet everyday heroes who have dedicated their lives to changing America’s food system. The platform launches today with “Grains Interrupted,” in which chef Marcus Samuelsson and Weiser Family Farms’ Jon Hammond discuss the importance of ancient grains and their role in the future of food.  "Food Interrupted" is now streaming on Facebook Watch; to learn more about the series, visit

Latest Transparency Commitment Challenges Restaurants Using Confusing Whole Grain Names
Although the USDA recommends whole grains make up at least half of all grains eaten in a day, more than half of the country’s top restaurant chains do not offer a single whole grain option on their menu. Those that do may use vague terms like “multigrain,” “nine grain,” or “made with whole grains” that may create an undue health halo for their bread offerings. By law, a bread can only be called whole grain if it offers 50% or more whole grain content. Panera currently offers a wider range of whole grain offerings than any other major restaurant chain, including its new Farmstyle Loaf, made with 55% whole grain and offering 1.2 servings of whole grain per slice.

“Food Interrupted” Digital Platform Advocates for Food System Change
In production with Participant Media’s SoulPancake and ACE Content and cooperation with HuffPost, “Food Interrupted,” aims to spark a dialogue about the food system, ultimately giving people more information and simple ways to affect change. The six episode weekly series will feature Marcus Samuelsson, Hannah Hart, Sam Talbot, Kevin Curry, Chris Cosentino and Rainn Wilson on topics ranging from clean ingredients and sugar consumption to animal welfare and plant-based meals.

Comment by Blaine Hurst, Panera CEO
“At our size and scale, we believe it’s part of our job to help revolutionize the food industry from the inside out – challenging the way things have always been done.  From the whole grain in our breads to the ingredients in our food – we will be relentless, leading by example and committed to increased transparency,” Hurst said.  “But we can’t do it alone.  People deserve to know more about their food and how it makes its way to their plate. Together, we can make a real change in the food system.”

Upcoming Food Interrupted episodes include:

  • “Plants Interrupted” (airing 10/22) - Kevin Curry (@fitmencook) and firefighter turned cookbook author Rip Esselstyn visit a firehouse to discuss the benefits of a more plant-based diet. 
  • “Sugar Interrupted” (10/29) – Chef Sam Talbot, a Type1 Diabetic, discusses managing sugar intake and explores emerging technology that could be a potential game changer for those struggling with diabetes.
  •  “Eggs Interrupted” (11/5) – New York Times Best-Selling author and food enthusiast, Hannah Hart, visits an egg farm to learn what makes an egg 100% real and discusses what some “eggs” are really made of.
  • “Meat Interrupted” (11/12) – Chef Chris Cosentino visits a cattle ranch to learn about groundbreaking, humane technology helping to track animal health.
  • “Clean Interrupted” (11/19) – Actor Rainn Wilson, in pursuit of his own clean food journey, explores cutting-edge crop sharing among urban gardeners.

Comment by Sara Burnett, Director of Wellness
“At Panera, we’ve always tried to do what’s right, regardless of what our industry has accepted as efficient or good enough,” Burnett said.  “Interestingly, multiple whole grain options available at grocers through our Panera at Home bread business helped remind us what really matters in bread and inspired us to translate their progress into our restaurants.  Guests deserve real, measureable information, but also options – and we offer more whole grain options than any other national restaurant chain.  When we combine our own actions with consumer education in our new “Food Interrupted” series, we believe we can create real demand for better food.”

For more information, visit and  

About Panera Bread
Thirty years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. We believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To us, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.

So we began with a simple commitment: to bake bread fresh every day in our bakery-cafes. No short cuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbors in need.

These traditions carry on today, as we have continued to find ways to be an ally for wellness to our guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches that we are proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on our salads and sandwiches. A commitment to transparency and options that empower our guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavors and whole grains. And a commitment to removing or not using artificial additives (flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and colors from artificial sources) in the food in our bakery-cafes. Why? Because we think that simpler is better and we believe in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating.

We’re also focused on improving quality and convenience. With investments in technology and operations, we now offer new ways to enjoy your Panera favorites – like mobile ordering and Rapid PickUp® for to-go orders and delivery – all designed to make things easier for our guests.

As a result, Panera has been one of the most successful restaurant companies in history. What started as one 400-square-foot cookie store in Boston has grown into a company with more than 2,300 units, nearly $6 billion in system-wide sales, and over 100,000 associates. In more than 25 years as a publicly traded company, Panera has created significant shareholder value.

In late 2017, Panera acquired Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc., parent company of the 304-unit Au Bon Pain bakery-café chain. The acquisition reunites Panera and Au Bon Pain, both of which were founded by Ron Shaich, and will intensify Panera’s growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities and transportation centers.

As of September 25, 2018, there were 2,097 bakery-cafes in 47 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread®, Saint Louis Bread Co. ® or Paradise Bakery & Cafe® names. For more information, visit or find us on Twitter (@panerabread), Facebook ( or Instagram (@panerabread).

About SoulPancake
SoulPancake, a division of Participant Media, is a content studio that inspires and connects audiences across digital platforms, television and OTT, live events, and branded entertainment. The mission-driven company delivers stories and experiences that build compassion, celebrate curiosity, and disrupt the status quo with joy. Named one of Fast Company's "Most Innovative Companies in Video," SoulPancake has more than 700 million video views across its digital platforms, has released two New York Times bestselling books, been named to Inc. Magazine’s Inc500 list of fastest-growing businesses, won twelve Webby Awards, four Streamy Awards, and took home a daytime Emmy. SoulPancake’s positive content has attracted brand partners such as Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, GE, Google, Microsoft, Panera, Sprint, T-Mobile for Business, the United Nations, Visa, and more. Find us online at or on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat via @soulpancake.

ACE Content
ACE develops, produces and distributes premium original content for media networks and brands alike including episodic television, feature film, print & publishing, digital & social media and experiential/live events. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, ACE combines the storytelling of an Emmy Award winning production company with the brand sensibility of a world-class marketing agency. 

Media Contact:
Jessica Hesselschwerdt

A video accompanying this announcement is available at